Chapter

Possible Legal Implications of Neural Mechanisms Underlying Ethical Behaviour

Donald Pfaff and Sandra Sherman

in Law and Neuroscience

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599844
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599844.003.0022

Series: Current Legal Issues

Possible Legal Implications of Neural Mechanisms Underlying Ethical Behaviour

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This chapter suggests that recent work in neuroscience pointing towards a physical/hormonal basis for moral reciprocity — the ‘do unto others’ dictum commonly called the Golden Rule — may have implications for how legal concepts have developed and should be applied. It starts from the assumption, however, that while neuroscience can now perhaps demonstrate that moral reciprocity is the product of how human brains have evolved, it would be facile to argue that the law simply reflects this evolution, and incorporates (or should incorporate) a ‘do unto others’ ideology into its basic, jurisprudential structure.

Keywords: neuroscience; moral reciprocity; legal concepts; law

Chapter.  7157 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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